Harris: Rhodes Scholar is intriguing prospect at the Senior Bowl
Myron Rolle is the kind of young man any father would like for his daughter to marry.
Rolle graduated from Florida State in 3 1⁄2 years and bypassed riches as a likely high pick in last year's NFL Draft after becoming the first major-college football player of his generation to accept a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship at the University of Oxford in England.
His future plans include attending medical school, becoming a neurosurgeon and opening a free medical clinic in his native Bahamas.
This week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., Rolle, who amassed 206 tackles and 13 pass deflections in his three-year college career, begins the daunting challenge of convincing pro teams how badly he wants to play after taking a year's sabbatical away from football.
As someone who's preparing for life after football before his professional football career even begins, Rolle has his head screwed on straight -- maybe too straight for some NFL teams.
In a league where former Philadelphia Eagles coach Dick Vermeil bunked overnight at Veterans Stadium and was so consumed in his job that he didn't realize the hometown Phillies were playing in the World Series in the stadium where he frequently slept, complete and total focus is essential for success.
Rolle realizes he must ease the concerns NFL teams may have about his dedication to football.
"The feedback I've been getting is I can still be an early-round pick if I display my talent at the Senior Bowl and the (NFL Scouting) Combine (in February). The questions people have are am I still athletic and what's my commitment to football," said Rolle, who has been training with speed and conditioning coach Tom Shaw in Florida. "I have (other) interests and they want to make sure I'm going to be committed to their franchise and not leave after two years to go to medical school.
"My whole life I wanted to play in the NFL. It was tough to turn down a lot of money (last year); my family never had a lot of money. But furthering your education and increasing your intellect and the experience at Oxford is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I don't regret the decision at all."
Charles Barkley was wrong. Athletes like Rolle can be role models to impressionable, star-struck kids, delivering the heartfelt message that education is vitally important to their lives.
But, Rolle -- who will return to Oxford in March to complete his studies in medical anthropology -- has to make an NFL roster before he can spread the word.
Reviews are mixed on Rolle, a strong safety, who will be on display for scouts this week along with Southern Cal's Taylor Mays, this year's top safety prospect and a projected first-round pick.
Bypassing the 2009 draft took a dent out of Rolle's wallet. Some mock drafts had him being selected in the first two rounds a year ago, but that's no longer the case. Scouts Inc. rates Rolle as the 15th-best safety prospect. NFLDraftScout rates Rolle as the seventh-best safety. Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. projects Rolle being a late-round pick.
Safety is considered among the deepest positions in this year's draft. It could also be a position of need for the Steelers, who eagerly anticipate the return next season of strong safety Troy Polamalu from a knee injury. The Steelers also have to decide whether to re-sign free safety Ryan Clark, an unrestricted free agent, or retain veteran safety Tyrone Carter.
While training in Florida last week, Rolle enlisted the advice of a couple of Steelers players, inside linebacker James Farrior and cornerback Ike Taylor, who also were working out with Shaw.
"Ike gave me great advice on staying humble, staying grounded, staying focused, staying hungry and leaning on veterans. He leaned on Deshea Townsend and Joey Porter and he said it helped him immensely," Rolle said. "I talked to James about how do I approach the Senior Bowl because he played in the game when he came out of college. He told me it's a great way to display your abilities, and that teams want to see how much information you can retain.
"I think a lot of guys go into the draft sort of with a sense of entitlement. Some guys want it really badly. Others feel that all they have to do is go through the motions, but I'm of the mind-set of the hunter. I want to prove myself and show I'm still the player I was before I left for Oxford."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Blake gets outside shot in nickel
- Rossi: Steelers’ tarnished Bell rings true
- Tomlin gives suggestion Steelers won’t be shy about going for 2
- Steelers notebook: LB Harrison open for larger role
- Steelers’ Brown: Attendance ‘never a doubt’ for offseason workouts
- Healthy safety Mitchell is eager for 2nd season with Steelers
- Steelers’ Heyward looking to stay for long haul
- Former Steelers kicker Reed doesn’t like new NFL PAT rule
- Steelers offensive line targeting injury-free performance as key
- Steelers interested in playing internationally again
- Penn State tight end James, a South Allegheny grad, goes to Steelers in 5th round